Go­ing the dis­tance

North Point vol­ley­ball falls to Great Mills in five sets

Maryland Independent - - Sports - By TED BLACK tblack@somd­news.com

Af­ter be­ing thumped by host North Point High School in the fourth set of their match on Wed­nes­day evening, the Great Mills High School vol­ley­ball team quickly righted ship and pre­vailed in the de­cid­ing set in the South­ern Mary­land Ath­letic Con­fer­ence non­di­vi­sion match.

Great Mills (6-4 over­all) dropped the open­ing set but won the next two be­fore be­ing hum­bled in the fourth set, re­sult­ing in a fifth set needed to break the tie. Although the Hor­nets had per­formed poorly in the fourth set and North Point (6-4) at­tained the mo­men­tum, the vis­i­tors shook off that game quickly and even­tu­ally won the over­all match by scores of 21-25, 25-22, 2522, 13-25 and 15-11.

“Between the fourth and fifth games I ba­si­cally told the girls they had been work­ing hard all night, so did they want to work hard and win the match or walk away with a loss,” Great Mills coach Bill Plot­ner said.

“The fifth game is only to 15, so there’s not much room for er­ror. We had to just go back and run our of­fense and it ended up with our libero get­ting the ball to our set­ter who got the ball to our best hitter.”

Great Mills ju­nior set­ter Lau­ren Heibel had done a su­perb job get­ting the ball to her out­side hit­ters through the first three sets, but the Hor­nets strug­gled in the fourth set and North Point ended that one with fresh­man Bai­ley Davis reel­ing off seven straight ser­vice win­ners pro­longed by Great Mills at­tack er­rors, in­clud­ing one that ended the set and forced a fifth.

The fifth mir­rored the first three as the teams traded side­out points and were tied eight times, with the lat­est be­ing 1010. That’s when Heibel went back to serve for the sec­ond

time in the set and the ju­nior gave the vis­i­tors some breath­ing room with three straight win­ners, aided by two North Point at­tack er­rors. Then at match point Heibel set se­nior out­side hitter Ca­ley Neville for a kill that ended it.

“That fourth game we just got flus­tered,” Heibel said. “I think we got frus­trated with the calls and we just weren’t play­ing well. But that fifth game we set­tled down and ran our plays. We still have some tough matches left and we’re look­ing for­ward to fac­ing Leonard­town. I thought North Point played well. They were bet­ter than we ex­pected.”

North Point first-year head coach Sara Young ded­i­cated Wed­nes­day’s “Dig Pink” match to a friend, Joyce Wash­ing­ton, who passed away two years ago af­ter a pro­longed bat­tle with breast cancer. Young ad­mit­ted the youth­ful Ea­gles had played to their fullest po­ten­tial on Wed­nes­day, ac­tu­ally outscor­ing Great Mills, 105-99, de­spite los­ing

the match in five sets.

“I thought our girls played re­ally well,” Young said. “But their set­ter [Heibel] was phe­nom­e­nal. She did a great job run­ning the floor for them. We fought hard all the way to the end. We still have to work on de­fense, serve-re­ceives. But we’re young with three fresh­men start­ing and we only have two se­niors and mostly ju­niors.”

North Point’s Kin­sey Polk gave the Ea­gles a 19-12 lead in the opener, but a ser­vice runs from Neville brought the Hor­nets even at 20. But the Ea­gles re­gained the ad­van­tage on a ser­vice run from libero Madi­son Meade and later ended the first set when Davis de­liv­ered a ser vice ace.

Both the sec­ond and third sets fol­lowed along sim­i­lar paths with nei­ther team gain­ing a dis­tinct ad­van­tage. In fact, the sec­ond set was tied on eight oc­ca­sions and as late as 22-all be­fore the Hor­nets fi­nally pre­vailed by scor­ing the last three points.

The third set was tied on five oc­ca­sions early and as late as 16-all be­fore a ser­vice run by Neville gave the Hor­nets some breath­ing room at 24-19 and the Ea­gles never got even as the vis­i­tors with­stood a late surge by the hosts to take that set and claim a two games to one lead in the match.

North Point promptly scored the first four points of the fourth set and led 10-2 and 16-8 be­fore Great Mills ral­lied be­hind a ser­vice run from Bryce Harden to get within 16-12. But the Ea­gles shook off that chal­lenge and scored the game’s fi­nal eight points, get­ting the last seven with Davis serv­ing well and the Hor­nets strug­gling to run their at­tack.

North Point is next sched­uled to be in ac­tion at home ver­sus Lackey at 5:30 p.m. Mon­day, while Great Mills trav­els to Calvert for a 5:30 p.m. match Mon­day.

“It was a re­ally good match,” said Davis, who also plays golf

for the school. “It just came down to which team was able to pass the ball bet­ter in the fifth set. Great Mills has a re­ally good team with a lot of ex­pe­ri­enced play­ers. We’re still re­ally young with mostly ju­niors and me and two other fresh­men start­ing.”

La Plata clinches Po­tomac

The War­riors knocked off West­lake in three sets on Wed­nes­day to com­plete its SMAC Po­tomac Di­vi­sion ac­tion for the 2017 sea­son, wrap­ping up the di­vi­sion ti­tle.

La Plata (8-2, 6-0 SMAC Po­tomac) won all six of its di­vi­sion matches in three-set sweeps.

The War­riors will play for the con­fer­ence cham­pi­onship sched­uled for Oct. 30 ver­sus the SMAC Ch­e­sa­peake Di­vi­sion cham­pion. They have three more matches re­main­ing be­fore then, the first host­ing Hunt­ing­town at 5:30 p.m. Mon­day.

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